Summary: This is a funeral sermon from Psalm 23:4. We all must pass through this valley.
Passing Through The Valley Of The Shadow of Death
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.” Psalms 23:1-6 (KJV)
Today is a day of grieving. I understand that. We grieve because we hurt. Death has hit home. It has touched a loved one and we hurt. God made us so that we can have relationships with one another – and when that relationship is lost because of death – we hurt. When that relationship is lost we feel pain. When that relationship is lost we grieve.
I would not say everything is all right – because it is not. You hurt and we acknowledge that fact. You will hurt for a long time – because everyone who has lost a family member or a close friend hurts for quite a while. And so I say to you – grieve. Grieve long and grieve deeply. Do not run from it. Do not treat your grief as if it were a stranger you can send away or deny. Grieve what is lost. Grieve honestly. Grieve lovingly. Grieve patiently, until the cup is emptied. There is no other way back to wholeness but by facing our grief.
Yet, if you would allow me I would like to speak a word of comfort today. It comes from the 23 Psalm. It is found in verse four. Let me read that verse again.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” Psalms 23:4 (KJV)
You may not know this but in Israel there is a real Valley of the Shadow of Death. It’s deep. It’s steep. It’s a very narrow canyon. The sun only hits the floor of the valley at high noon. The rest of the time the valley is dark. I want to give you three quick facts about the valley of the shadow of death.
1. The valley of death is UNAVOIDABLE.
The valley of death is going to happen – you can count on it. The Bible tells us.
“People die once, and after that they are judged.” Hebrews 9:27 (GW)
The Bible makes it plain that it is appointed for all people to die - we don’t live forever in this world. Death is a fact of our existence - no matter how much we struggle against this fact - it is unavoidable.
Fact number two is:
2. The valley of death is UNPREDICTABLE.
You can’t plan your time of death – it just doesn’t work that way. The average white male in America now lives to the age of 78. The average white female in America now lives to the age of 82. ______ was ______ years old. When ______ was born, he/she was unaware of how long he/she would live. The time of death is unpredictable - we just don’t know when our life will end.